How is fabric made from pineapples?
The designers’ constant desire to produce innovative fashion materials has led them to find the exquisite Philippine-made piña fabric. The correct term is re-discover because the fabric has been existing for many years.
Areas such as Hawaii, Indonesia, India, and the West Indies are known to harvest piña, but The Philippines has refined this luxury tradition. With an ideal climate for the pineapple plant to grow, piña’s long, fine and luxurious thread is perfect for textiles.
Finished piña fabric is translucent and stiff. It is often mixed with silk or polyester to make scarves or garments, including the Barong Tagalog, the national dress of the Philippines. Piña cloth can also be finished with calado, the traditional Filipina hand embroidery.
The resilient strands have a sheen similar to silk. The gloss protects the fibers, so piña does not need treatment with toxic chemicals. It is easy to wash and in its pure form, the weight is light and far finer than hemp or linen.
What makes this so environmentally useful?
Piña weavers only use natural herbs or plants to add more colour to the garment and the fabric comes from a sustainable resource. Pineapple plants take only about 18 months to mature, ready for harvesting.
Pineapple or piña (Spanish for Pineapple) is now used to make many textile-based products, from clothing to scarves and shoes.
The Piña process ...
Piña weaving has a long history in The Philippines, where native pineapple plants have been cultivated for their fibre for generations.
Mature pineapple leaves are harvested and stripped of their outer coating by scraping with a blunt instrument, for example a coconut shell.
From this, two grades of fibre are extracted; bastos which is strong and coarse for making string or twine. And, Liniwan (or washout) which will only lift away from the leaf after vigorous scraping. Liniwan is finer and used for weaving fabric once the green epidermal layer is washed away. This leaves a beautiful white, opaque thread.
–Pagpisi and Pagpanug-
Hand-knotting and trimming individual fibres creates one long seamless filament.
The filament is warped and spun onto spools. When the filament is not be manipulated, the loose fibres are mixed with sand to prevent tangling.
This is the final stage, which involves weaving the cloth on an upright two-treadle loom. The finished fabric is often mixed with silk or polyester to make garments and can be finished with traditional hand embroidery.
Has the traditional process been updated?
Yes. Ananas Anam Ltd have the first automated machine to assist with this process allowing farmers to utilise greater quantities of their waste leaves.
You can find out more here:
Who is working with these fibres and how can I find them?Ananas Anam Ltd have a brand called Piñatex®
Dr. Carmen Hijosa, the founder of Ananas Anam Ltd, is an ethical entrepreneur with a vision for a more sustainable future. Dr Hijosa has a background in leathergoods and she has developed a natural, sustainable and beautiful leather alternative.
The pineapple leaves are a byproduct of existing agriculture, so they are environmentally sound and assist farming communities.
Here is more information on Piñatex®:
Brands using Piñatex®
Forward thinking companies are using this fabric and helping us create a sustainable future. Go pineapple leaves – we want some of that!